Graveyard of the Atlantic


The Graveyard of the Atlantic- not where I thought I'd be while sitting through the ceremony yesterday. But I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend an early summer Monday. It was a late start but the diver who had first seen the wreck wasn't able to meet us sooner. We checked and packed the dive gear, loaded it in the rental pickup, touched base with the skipper, and notified the coast guard of our itinerary. Then we were finally on the water.

The wreck was in the 80 to 100 ft depth range and today we would really just get a cursory glance, and maybe set a guideline. The local diver had seen plenty of wrecks and might know when he had found something interesting, but it was just as possible that he hadn't. Nathaniel would know if this was going to be just a fun excursion or something we needed to come back to tomorrow with a plan.

I hadn't invested any real energy into speculating about the ship but when we started surveying the debris it turned out to be older than I'd expected. It was wooden, definitely pre- 1900 but not colonial. It must have been protected under the sand for a long period or it would probably have been eaten away more. The Graveyard had several Civil War ships but this didn't look like a steamer.

A glint caught my eye. Probably a bronze fastener from a wooden beam but I took a closer look. I made a scooping motion in one direction to gently move aside a little of the silt. That looked like a coin! I left it in place and waved to Nathaniel. I'd never seen one like it. I could make out the image of, I presumed, an eagle. There was just enough time to take a photo before I needed to head up.

When we surfaced I excitedly called over to Nathaniel, "Did you see it?"

He pulled his face mask up and he had a grin beyond his normal his stoic smile.

Nothing is exhausting in the way that sun and wind and saltwater are. But it's a wholesome, clean exhausted and then topped with the excitement of an interesting find... Back in the room Nathaniel let me take the bathroom first and I striped off the still damp bathingsuit, rinced, and pulled on a soft cotton shirt. Life's small pleasures were the feel of dry cotton after a day on deck. I passed him sending off emails at the table but by the time I turned back from my luggage I heard the shower on. I meant to ask if he had more work to do before turning in. I flopped down and spread out wide on the huge bed. I hadn't intended to doze off but I started a bit when I heard Nathaniel turning the cushions on the fold-out bed. He would be gallant and let me keep the bed but I waved him off. I opened my eyes enough to see him dressed for sleep in a gray fitted T and boxer briefs.

"Don't bother with that. Just lay down." I pat the other side of the bed with my tired floppy arm.

He chuckled but obeyed, lying on top of the covers beside me. I immediately fell back asleep. At some point the hotel AC forced me under the blankets and I woke curled against Nathaniel's side. It was so familiar, it felt like five years hadn't passed. He was still breathing deeply so I supposed I hadn't been a bother. When I next woke with the alarm we were still amiably tangled but both jumped up, ready to head out.


At the wreck we worked well together as we always had. If I hadn't known the difference I might not have noticed the subtle way Nathaniel's body language had shifted toward me. Or was it just my perception? Was he standing closer, putting his hand on my arm more, touching me a little longer when we checked each other's gear?

All that time ago, when I stopped seeing him, I think I had forgotten how he was out in the field, not only out of his tie but bare chested and sun bleached.

It had been winter, in the city, and he had stopped feeling real. Always in control, always mild mannered. I was constantly waiting for the other shoe- He just hadn't seem passionate about me... but what did that matter in the long run as evidenced by the fulsome groomsman. Maybe being passionate was overrated.

There had only ever been the one flash of anger in his eyes when he realised that I was doing a pathetic job of leaving him, by quietly taking the last of my belongings from his flat. But he had with restraint said calmly, "My door will still be open when you are ready"

And it had been. I had stumbled right through it Sunday night.

Nathaniel looked over at me, and put his thumb up. I nodded, thumbed up, and splashed backward over the rail, getting to work.

We took measurements and more photos. The intact hull, 126 feet long, of what Nathaniel was calling 'the clipper' was mostly buried in sand and partially covered in coral growth. My task was to thoroughly document the coin's location and surroundings precisely as it was our first major clue to this ship's identity. The other perhaps even more surprising find was what looked to be a piece of tortoise- not sea turtle- shell with vertebrae.

Nathan was busy lining up all the correct permissions, so that tomorrow we could collect a few samples for testing. He had his suspicions that 'the clipper' was similar to the ones that had been abandoned in Yerba Buena cove in the 1850s and were now buried under San Francisco.

"I'm sure I could put together a solid proposal to get a team out to properly excavate," he said as we shared takeout Tai from the tailgate of the rental truck, overlooking the beach and the setting sun, before driving back to the hotel. Again we crashed together in the giant hotel bed and fell heavily asleep. A fleeting wisp of the thought of passionless maturity tickled my last conscious moment.

When we woke it was still dark out, but with the blinds open and the ambient light spilling in, I could see his eyes looking back at me. My hands were tucked against his heart, his arm was draped over my hip, my long hair was spread across our shared pillow.

"Can I ravish you now or not?" He asked directly.

"Yes," I answered without hesitation.


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